Springtime is getting ready to melt into summer, and that means folks all across the state are looking to plan their hot month holidays. If you’re smart (as we know you are), you’ll want to make sure you book a spot somewhere close to a large, cool body of water – otherwise known as a lake. Our beautiful landlocked state is known for them. We scouted out 15 lakes that are spread all across our pretty state, so you’re bound to find someplace perfect for that mid-July picnic or your annual August camping trip.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
15. Percy Priest Lake
At 42 miles long, Percy Priest lake is one of the largest bodies of water surrounding Nashville. It covers areas of Rutherford, Davidson and Wilson Counties, and you can camp at one of their three campgrounds, or utilize one of their 11 picnic areas. Have a boat? Head out on the water using one of 12 boat ramps. Percy Priest is nothing but friendly and fun for the whole family.
14. Reelfoot Lake
Reelfoot Lake is a quirky place, located in both Obion and Lake counties. It was formed after a series of devastating earthquakes in the early 1800s, and has since seen an uptick in hikers and wildlife lovers. You may feel as if the lake looks more like a swamp, with its bald cypress trees, but it's also one of the best places in the state to spot a bald eagle.
13. Nickajack Lake
A TVA lake, Nickajack passes straight through the beautiful city of Chattanooga. You may have heard of that stunning gorge known as the "Grand Canyon of Tennessee?" Yep, that stunning stretch of river is also a part of the lake. It doesn't get more beautiful than this!
12. Cherokee Lake
Another lake formed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, Cherokee Dam was actually built in at a breakneck speed within a year and four months. The gorgeous reservoir is fed by the Holston River, and you can visit nearly four hundred miles of shoreline at the numerous docks, state parks and wildlife management areas located along the waterline.
11. Radnor Lake
Radnor Lake is a man-made lake located in the Oak Hill neighborhood of Brentwood, Tennessee. It is a popular hiking spot widely used by locals for its easy location and simple lake loop trail.
10. Old Hickory Lake
Old Hickory Lake was formed by the Old Hickory Lock and Dam, and is fed by the stunning Cumberland River. At just 25 miles from the heart of Nashville, this Hendersonville-based body of water has proven to be one of the most popular spots for picnics and outdoor activities during the summertime. The historic home of Daniel Smith, who settled the town, is also located along the lake,
9. Douglas Lake
Douglas Lake is also known as the Douglas Reservoir, fed by the French Broad River and located just outside the wildly popular Gatlinburg area. The lake stretches over 40 miles, and the fun town of Baneberry is located right on the water.
8. Norris Lake
TVA was a busy bee during the 20th century, and Norris Lake was developed in 1936 on the Clinch River for flood control. Interesting fact: located in Norris, the town was named after the Nebraska senator, George Norris, who wrote the legislation for TVA. Care for a picnic AND a history lesson?
7. Land Between the Lakes
Shared by Kentucky and Tennessee, Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake make up the ever-popular Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. President John F. Kennedy designated the gorgeous natural spot as a national recreation area in 1963, and it has since become a popular spot for picnics and hiking.
6. Fort Loudon
This east Tennessee reservoir runs from the Fort Loudon Dam to Knoxville, making up about 50 miles of watery beauty. It is known as a great area for bird watching, as well as bass fishing and boating. Fort Loudon is rife with waterbirds, which makes for a magical, wildlife infused experience.
5. Marrowbone Lake
This Joelton lake is located in Middle Tennessee, about fifteen miles north of Nashville. The tiny spot is a hidden gem, stocked with trout and great for relaxing or slingin' a line. This beautiful treasure is worth finding, folks.
4. Watauga Lake
Located just east of Elizabethton, the more officially known Watauga Reservoir is hugged by the Cherokee National Forest and all sorts of vacation homes. There is a replica of the lake in Nashville's Centennial Park, and the space has been described as, "some of the most beautiful country in the Tennessee River watershed" by the TVA.
3. South Holston Lake
Located in Sullivan County, South Holson Lake is bound together by the South Holston Dam, which has spread into a watery mass that extends over 7,500 acres. It now crosses from the Volunteer State to Virginia, because we're neighborly and there's nothing like sharing a bit of beauty, wouldn't you say?
2. Dale Hollow Lake
Formed by the Obey River and the Cumberland River, Dale Hollow Lake is shared by both Tennessee and Kentucky. Water sports are popular here, including wake boarding, tubing and water skiing. Smallmouth bass fishing is also a neat pastime at Dale Hollow, especially since the lake holds the world record for the largest smallmouth bass ever caught - it came in at 11 pounds, 15 ounces. Wowza!
1. Center Hill Lake
Perhaps known as the most beautiful lake in the state by locals, the 64-mile watery area makes for over 400 miles of shoreline. Burgess Falls, Edgar Evins and the wildly popular Rock Island State Park all include an area of the lake shoreline, as well.